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May 2009 Archives

May 7, 2009

Sumrall looking forward

Over 60 people attended the Sumrall town meeting last week for the First Impressions presentation. Mayor Gerolene Rayburn introduced the program and I showed them over 100 photos of the town and discussed the positives and suggested improvements. To me, Sumrall is sitting in a perfect location as a bedroom community for Hattiesburg. The schools are viewed as a strength and there are new subdivisions under development. The Longleaf Trace is a major asset in Sumrall. So, with the proximity to Hattiesburg, strong schools, and the Longleaf Trace, Sumrall is positioned to grow. The town should plan now for that growth.

May 8, 2009

ARC offers more ACLP grants

The ARC recently awarded several communities a second round of ACLP grants. The Appalachian Community Leadership Program is focused on developing grassroots efforts in community development. These are small grants, just $3000, but with big payoffs. Each community "spark plug" team leverages the $3000 with local support and volunteer labor. Community awarded this time are Louisville (more work on the soccer park), Houston (more work on developing a downtown park), Okolona (more work on a community park area), Macon (work on renovating a downtown gas station for a museum), Plantersville (more work on their community center renovation), Blue Mountain (more work on their lake beautification), Ackerman (improving the depot area by adding a pavilion), Water Valley (developing a driving tour), Aberdeen (painting old buildings), Mantee (new roof and beautification of a road) and West Point (enhancing the 45 corridor). I think that is all, if I left something out someone remind me. We'll talk more about these individually later.

May 12, 2009

Someweir or Noweir?

At the recent First Impressions presentation, it was obvious that folks in Weir are ready to take action to improve the curb appeal of their community. Small, rural towns like Weir have a tremendous opportunity to "get their arms around" their communities and get things moving.

Since Weir is only about a mile square, new street signage, trash receptacles, banners, flower containers and other amenities aren't really that far out of reach, especially when one local business owner was ready to "ante up" with a few thousand dollars left over from another community project if the town will come up with a match.

However, before any of these things are put into place, a general clean sweep of the town needs to happen. As Leland Speed, former executive director of MDA, puts it, "Pretty sells, ugly doesn't sell." It's obvious that a lot of volunteer capacity and excitement centers around the school, which is commendable. Now, it's time to leverage that community spirit in other ways.

We certainly want to see Weir be "Someweir" not "Noweir," and a community vision with accountable action steps defined and underwritten by the residents will help the town get to that point.

Capitalizing on a Unique Niche

French Camp is one of those rural communities that has a lot going for it. The Natchez Trace Parkway is literally steps away from the town center that gives an added boost to local tourism. Travelers often stop at the Council House Cafe owned and operated by French Camp Academy. The food is great, and the atmosphere is too. The Historic District offers the traveler a glimpse of the way life used to be. Walk through a farmhouse or even stay at a Bed and Breakfast!

Of course, French Camp Academy is another shining star of the community. A Christian Boarding School, it was started by a group of Scotch-Irish settlers in 1885. Visit www.frenchcamp.org to read all about it! Oh, did I mention the Rainwater Observatory?

French Camp already has foundational assets in place to help it become a sustainable and competitive community. A vision coupled with strategic objectives can really move the town to a brighter future.

About May 2009

This page contains all entries posted to Dawg Tracks in May 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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